Columbia Gorge/Mt Hood Loop

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Aug 30th, 2004, 06:39 PM
  #1
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Columbia Gorge/Mt Hood Loop

I plan a day trip drive from Portland through the Columbia Gorge and around Mt Hood. How long will the drive take with stops for scenic vistas, short hikes ( 1 to 2 miles) and lunch? Is it doable in a day? Any suggestions? Highlights of the trip?

Thanks all fodorites.
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Aug 30th, 2004, 08:15 PM
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Yes, one day is great for this trip. We like to go clockwise, picking up the Columbia Gorge Scenic Hwy in Troutdale. First stop is Vista House at Crown Point. Have your cameras ready. Next stop, Louterelle Falls. It's a short walk and not nearly as crowded as Multnomah Falls, and really lovely.
Then, the obligatory stop at Multnomah Falls, and the walk up to the bridge. Lots more photo ops.
We picnic at the park at Lower Horsetail Falls, which is just a few minutes east of Multnomah Falls. The picnic tables are near the base of the thundering falls. Then a hike of about two hours up to the higher falls that cascade in front of your face, as the trail takes you through a cave. The path loops back to a spot just west of the Oneonta Gorge and you have to walk a few minutes on the road to return to your car.
I don't think there is time for Bonneville Dam or the salmon hatcheries. Go on to Mt. Hood.
Timberline Lodge is worth exploring. See the movies on how it was built. Appreciate the artisanship. It was built during the depression by the CCC, if I recall, and many unemployed artists were employed in its construction. There are lovely trails at Mt. Hood.
Have a beer and burger at the Mt. Hood Brewing Company.
If it's a clear night, you may get a witness a heavenly sunset from Timberline or the Mt. Hood Brewing Company.
It takes a couple of hours to hightail it back to Portland. It's a great trip. Hope you're going soon. The days are getting shorter!
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Aug 31st, 2004, 04:21 PM
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Thanks Orcas. I will be driving this route on Friday Sept 17. If I leave at 9 a.m., would I be back before dark?

Where is the Mt. Hood Brewing Company? Are you suggesting it for dinner?
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Aug 31st, 2004, 04:54 PM
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We live in the area and just did this loop again this past weekend. It truly is gorgeous!!! The hike that Orcas refers to is wonderful...but if you do it just be careful because at one point the trail has a fork in it and if you go left on it you will not be on the loop. The left way is very pretty, but just be careful of which route you intend to take.
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Aug 31st, 2004, 05:13 PM
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Yes, Mt. Hood Brewing Company would be around dinner time. It's at government camp. I'd go look at Timberline Lodge first, then go there as a last stop.

http://oregonbeer.org/mthood.html

I'll just swag the time and say this a 12 or 13 hour day if you don't rush it and do all I've suggested. You will likely be eating at dusk, and it will be getting dark as you are driving off Mt. Hood. It's a decent road and not scary, even though you are on the mountain.

Have a good map for when you get to Gresham, so you don't get lost in the city on the way back to Portland. That's the hardest part of returning, night or day.


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Sep 1st, 2004, 03:15 AM
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Orcas (or anyone else following this post):

I expect to leave Portland around 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. for this drive and would live to return by 6:30 pm. If this round trip lasts 12-13 hours, can you suggest what I should trim to fit the trip in my time frame?

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Sep 1st, 2004, 07:36 AM
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Skip the hike at the Lower Horsetail Falls. Others can correct these time estimates as I am doing this by memory.
Portland via scenic route to Vista House:1 hour plus .25 hrs Vista House.
To Louterelle Falls .25. At Louterelle Falls: .5. Multnomah Falls 1.0. Picnic at Lower Horsetail or eat at Multnomah Fall: plus .5. To Timberline 1.5. At TL 1.5. Eat 1.0. Back to Portland 1.5. That's about 9.5 hours, I'm guessing.
Another way to shave time is to take I-84 directly to Multnomah Falls, which takes only about 45 minutes (or less). You'd miss Vista House and the feel of the forest, though. We had a family of deer by the side of the road on one trip on the scenic hwy, and Vista House is a classic spot with the most famous view of the Gorge. If you do take I-84, backtrack a few miles from Multnomah Falls to Louterelle Falls and see it too.
When you get to Portland, check out Powells Book Store and look at their travel section. Maybe you can find some books that will help you out on this! It can be done, and you don't want to rush the sights you see. You'll want to just time it all right.
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Sep 1st, 2004, 08:22 AM
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I love the Gorge area. We really enjoyed MultnomahFalls. I think the highlight of your trip would be to end up at the Columbia River Gorge Hotel for a night after a day of touring.

www.columbiagorgehotel.com The world-famous country breakfasts are amazing. My kids still ask if we can go stay at that place where they serve the syrup like a waterfall.

If you can't spend the night, take a tour of the grounds and shop in the gift shop there. Have a nice trip! ***kim***
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Sep 1st, 2004, 09:32 AM
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One of the more interesting ways to see the Gorge/Mt. Hood is from a vintage biplane that flies along at minimum altitude. We've done it a few times, you get a great perspective of the whole area. The pilots are great, all very experienced flight instructors, very nice, will fly either straight and level, or if you are more adventurous, will do some trickier turns (still VERY mild by stunt flying definitions, though). Not expensive and a great experience. The trips usually last about 45 minutes.
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Sep 1st, 2004, 10:56 AM
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Found one of my books with info on the loop from Portland. It is 164 miles. Taking the scenic hwy to the Gorge adds a few miles and some time, as traffic is slower than on I-84. I'm figuring the actual drive time, with the scenic hwy is 4 hours, maybe a bit more as you head through Gresham at rush hour. You can see you will have time in one day. You just need to pick a few places to stop that will give you the experience, though the drive itself is beautiful and part of the experience. You could also cut back on eating dinner at the Mt. Hood Brewing Co, if you felt you were low on time. The return drive to Portland from Timberline/Government Camp (Mt. Hood) is probably 1 1/2 hours.
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Sep 1st, 2004, 05:36 PM
  #11
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Thanks everyone for your replies. As usual, fodorites are the best.

A biplane tour sounds great, as does an overnight stop on the Columbia Gorge, but neither fits well with my overall schedule. I will follow Orcas' advice and cut out dinner until I return to Portland, hopefully leaving enough time for everything else on what sounds like a fabulous loop.
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Sep 1st, 2004, 06:07 PM
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Perhaps a meal at Paley's Place or the Bluehour would end your day nicely! ***kim***
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Sep 5th, 2004, 09:25 AM
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If you have a clear day, I recommend the "Fruit Loop" outside Hood River which affords wonderful views of Mt. Hood and the drive east from Hood River to Biggs and then west on the Washington side from Maryhill to Hood River. The Maryhill Museum and Maryhill Windery are both worth a visit and the west-bound trip provides striking views of the Columbia River and Mt. Hood.
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